Relationship property division

Dividing your property fairly when your relationship ends can be one of the most difficult times of your life. Independent legal advice for both parties is essential, and the law requires this.

We encourage our clients to at least make contact for a no-obligation discussion. Unfortunately, often when people don’t get advice, they can end up getting much less than what they should.

Coming to a private agreement rather than going to the Family Court is the best way to work through dividing relationship property. This will better preserve relationships, which can be crucial where children are involved. In order for a relationship property agreement to be enforceable, it must be written and both parties must have taken legal advice.

If an agreement cannot be reached, either party can make an application to the Family Court. If you need to go to Court, we have significant experience in Family Court process and advocacy.

Although the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 provides for a 50:50 property split, there can be difficulties when:

  • One of you has brought a greater proportion of assets to the relationship
  • it’s unclear whether some property is separate or relationship property
  • one of you is using a trust to protect specific assets
  • family inheritances or family gifts have to be factored in
  • you may have to sell your family home in order to release relationship property funds.

We are experts in navigating these complex issues and reaching resolution.

We have a detailed understanding of how to resolve complex asset structures. We have an expert knowledge of how family trusts can affect division. In particular, we can guide you through how the Family Proceedings Act 1980 has been applied to resettle family trusts to protect both parties to the marriage where one party is using a trust to avoid division of property.

We have expert knowledge concerning arguments related to the disparity caused by division of function in a relationship when the relationship ends. This typically occurs when a parent forgoes a career to devote time to children.

The highest Court in the country in the matter of Scott v Williams has recently considered this issue and unfortunately left many aspects still unclear. However, we have excellent ways of working through these issues to get resolution on your behalf. Scott v Williams sets down a formula to address disparity that essentially looks at the respective ability of the partners to earn over a number of years and redress the difference. There are a multitude of different factors that may be taken into account when determining the disparity of income. These include a comparison of income and the causal link between the disparity and roles within the marriage.

Going through separation can be a stressful time. For more guidance and support on property agreements and dividing marital or relationship assets, contact your family lawyers at Lane Neave on 04 499 4014.

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